Bear poachers sentenced to jail time, fines

By From page A3 | December 11, 2013

Two men were sentenced Dec. 6 to prison time and fines after pleading no contest to poaching bears.

Peter George Vitali, 56, of Pioneer, and Arthur Martin Blake, 59, of River Pines, were sentenced to 30 days in jail and 36 months of probation, a press release from the Department of Fish and Wildlife stated. Additionally, Vitali was ordered to pay a $12,500 fine and Blake was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

The two were arrested in April by CDFW officers who found them in possession of 20 large bear claws and three bear gall bladders in the Eldorado National Forest.

Evidence suggested that Vitali and Blake had recently killed three bears, a sow and two cubs. From the sow, the claws, liver and gall bladder were removed. Only the liver and gall bladder were removed from the cubs.

“This case is an example of the challenges our officers face,” said CDFW Lt. Stacey LaFave. “Heavy fines and jail time send a strong message to poachers who unlawfully take and profit from California’s natural resources.”

Vitali and Blake pleaded to misdemeanor charges of illegally taking wildlife for profit in November.

The sale, purchase or possession of any bear part is against the law. Bear gall bladders are sold on the black market as the bile from the organ is believed by some to have medicinal properties. California law states that possession of more than one bear gall bladder is prima facie evidence that the bear gall bladders are possessed for sale.

Cole Mayer

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